Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

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U.P. woman shoots ‘Booner’ bear in Dickinson County

Gladstone, Mich. — Twenty-three-year-old Kacey Gartland, of Gladstone, shot the second-highest-scoring black bear known taken in the state this year. Her trophy bear is also the third-biggest bruin known killed in Michigan by women. She got the record-book bear in Dickinson County on the evening of Sept. 25, the first day of her hunt, while hunting with her father, Doug.

The bruin had a dressed weight of 424 pounds. Recently, the skull officially was scored following a mandatory 60-day drying period and measured 2112⁄16 inches, according to Boone and Crockett Club measurer Dave Wellman. A minimum of 21 inches is required for all-time recognition by the Boone and Crocket Club.

The current Michigan record black bear, with a skull measuring 23 inches, was killed by Sharon Agren in Montmorency County while she hunted with hounds in 1997. Agren’s bear had a dressed weight of 488 pounds.

The second-highest-scoring bear taken by a woman, according to Commemorative Bucks of Michigan – the official keeper of Michigan deer, bear, elk, and turkey records – measured 22 inches and was tagged by Donna Herson, of Wallace, in Menominee County in 2006 while she was hunting over bait. Herson’s bear had a dressed weight of 477 pounds.

Jason Wade, of Frankfort, killed the largest bear recorded this fall, a 500-pounder shot in Gogebic County on Sept. 17 with the help of hounds. The skull from that bear has a green score of 22 inches. After the skull is cleaned and dried for 60 days, it likely will score slightly more than Gartland’s bear.

Gartland shot her first bear in 2005. It was a 140-pounder. Two years ago, she told her father she wanted to try bear hunting again, so they applied for bear licenses together. They weren’t among the applicants who were drawn for licenses during 2012, but they got tags this year for the third hunt.

Based on photos from a game camera they had at the bait site where Kacey Gartland planned to hunt, they determined there were four different bears visiting the site. There were two small ones, a decent-size male, and the big one.

“The big one showed up on camera the day before my hunt started,” she said. “I said, ‘That’s the one I’m going for.’ ”

Gartland and her father were positioned in treestands next to one another, overlooking the bait the following evening. Their stands were 20 yards from the bait.

“About 5:30 I glanced off to the right and saw something,” Gartland said. “It didn’t take long to realize it was a bear. I tried to get my father’s attention, but it was tough to do without making much noise.

“The bear came in on the same trail we followed to get to the bait. At first I thought the bear was going to come right under our stands, but then he turned and went to the bait. It was obvious it was the big one, but when he got to the bait, he stood with his butt toward me, and I didn’t have a shot.

“He kept looking to the side and I thought he was going to leave before I could get a shot, but he finally turned. He let out a growl when I shot, then took off running.”

The big bear didn’t make it far before dying. Gartland put a 150-grain bullet from her lever-action .300 rifle behind the bruin’s shoulder, taking out both lungs.

“We knew the bear was big from the photos we saw of it, and it looked big at the bait, too, but we didn’t know it was that big,” she said “When we walked up to the dead bear we knew we would need help to get it out of the woods. We called my brother and uncle.”

Doug Gartland hunted a few times at a different spot after his daughter scored, but was not successful in filling his tag. He has taken a number of bears in the past, but none as big as his daughter’s bruin.

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